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Friday, January 29, 2010

Project 365: Week 4

More stairway progress

This is what it looks like currently. The tread going upstairs is black and the three railings are done. We are playing around with what to do with the three steps to the right. Casey primed them and we may try to paint the fronts and sand and stain the tops to match the railings.

The steps themselves are in really bad condition which is why they need to be completely replaced.

We hope to make some more progress on this project over the weekend.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

On to the next.

Project, that is. It is always something isn't it? Well, it is at our house, that is for sure. The main level is almost completely done (kitchen - check, entryway - check, living room - check) all that is left is that pesky mess of stairs that is hidden behind the fireplace wall. When we bought the house, this is one area that I just hated. I mean, look at it.

Eyesore. Those painted cream colored bannisters are yuck. Plus, there is the teal carpeted steps.

And the dark 70s brown that we have been slowly extricating from the house, one room at a time, makes an appearance here.

So, we started by attaching wooden bannisters to each railing and ripping off the teal carpet disaster.

Next, we stained the bannisters and painted the railings in a charcoal color that is reminiscent of wrought iron.

It is looking better already. We also painted the tread on the stairs that go upstairs black. We would have continued with the wrought iron color but that needed about 65 coats since we were painting it on top of painted metal. We used a black oil paint so it would stick better. Next, we are replacing each of the floating steps going upstairs with new wood steps. First we have to cut each one and stain it and prime the wall behind the old step.

As for the 70s brown steps, we are still deciding what to do with them. We may just sand them down and re-stain them.

More to come as we continue to work on this project.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Project 365: Week 3

Week three of Project 365.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010


At some point we need to have our fireplace inspected or have a chimney sweep come or something. BTW thinking about chimney sweeps makes me sing that song from Mary Poppins, "chim chiminey, chim chim cha-roo" and then Casey looks at me like I am crazy b/c apparently he has never seen Mary Poppins nor has he ever heard a person who does a worse rendition of it than me.

Anyway, in the meantime we thought it would be nice to use our fireplace for candles instead of an actual fire so we don't burn the joint down. So I bought a bunch at BB&B and voilà, instant ambiance.

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PW's Ginger Steak Salad

Okay, this is just good. The dressing is perfection, the salad is simple yet interesting and all in all this makes a great meal. As if PW could steer me wrong. She says this serves one but it definitely serves two in my opinion (I adapted the directions slightly to this effect). This makes plenty of marinade and dressing for two big salads, just buy a little extra meat if you need to.


2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon sherry
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 whole rib-eye, strip, or sirloin steak (or two equalling about 1/2 lb)
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Salad Dressing:
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons white sugar
1 Tablespoon lime juice
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
½ whole jalapeno, seeded and diced

2 whole green onions, sliced
8 ounces mixed greens
Cherry tomatoes, optional

Combine steak marinade ingredients in a Ziploc bag. Mix and place steak into bag. Marinate for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Combine salad dressing ingredients and slice green onion.

When steak is finished marinating, add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a hot skillet. Cook steak about 1 1/2 minutes per side, or until medium rare. Remove from skillet and keep on a plate, allowing to cool slightly.

Toss salad greens in 3/4 of the salad dressing. Place steak on cutting board and slice thinly. Place tossed salad on two plates, then place sliced steak on top of salads. Pour remaining salad dressing over the top. Sprinkle green onions over the salad. You can add cherry tomatoes if you'd like; sliced carrots also go well with this.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Chocolate Pots de Crème

We had my parents over for dinner this past weekend so I decided to try something new and different for dessert. For dinner I served Winter Salad with Candied Pecans, Artichoke Stuffed Chicken Breasts, a version of the Best Broccoli Ever, and wild rice.

For dessert, the pièce de résistance, I made Chocolate Pots de Crème that I found on Annie's Eats. This is a great dessert to have in your arsenal. It is fairly simple to make and can be made ahead of time, but is so rich and decadent that it is sure to impress. I wanted something rich and chocolately but was a little intimidated by chocolate mousse recipes and all the folding of ingredients that goes with it. This was a sublime substitute and I highly recommend it. Of course, I still plan to try my hand at chocolate mousse especially after this turned out so well.

4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1½ cups heavy cream, divided
1½ cups whole milk
1 large egg
5 large egg yolks
¼ cup sugar
Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 300° F. Line a large roasting pan or baking dish with two layers of paper towels. Place eight ramekins, espresso cups, custard cups or pots de crème pots in the pan. Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil. Once the water comes to a boil, remove from the heat and cover.

In the meantime, place the chopped chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Bring ½ cup of the heavy cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Once the cream reaches a boil, pour it over the chocolate and let stand for 1 minute. Stir with a rubber spatula, starting in the center of the bowl and working outward in a circular motion, until the ganache is smooth; set aside.

Combine the remaining heavy cream and the whole milk in the saucepan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolks, sugar, and salt until slightly thickened and pale yellow in color. Drizzle in a small amount of the hot cream-milk mixture, whisking constantly, to temper the eggs. Pour in the remainder of the hot liquid, still whisking constantly, until completely incorporated. Finally, gently whisk the egg mixture into the ganache until incorporated.

Spoon any skin that has formed off the top of the custard. Divide the custard evenly between the prepared cups. Pour some of the previously set aside hot water into the baking dish around the custard cups so that it reaches about halfway up the sides of the cups. Cover the top of the pan tightly with foil, poking two holes in opposite corners. Very carefully slide the pan into the oven.

Bake 35-40 minutes, or until the custard jiggles only a bit in the center when tapped or lightly shaken. Carefully remove the pan from the oven and transfer it to a cooling rack. Allow the custards to rest in their warm water bath for 10 minutes, then remove the foil and very carefully transfer the cups from the water to the cooling rack. Once they come to room temperature, cover individually with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

I only had 4 ramekins so I used 4 crème brûlée as well and they all turned out perfectly. I ended up cooking mine for a total of 35 minutes but my oven does tend to cook fast.
I recommend serving with fresh berries and homemade whipped cream. Annie's Eats used raspberries, I used strawberries.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Entryway/Living Room Project

As our Entryway/Living Room project is coming to a close, I find myself pondering furniture options. We will probably hold off on making any big purchases for this room until we are done with other renovation projects, but a girl can dream.

After contimplating serveral different entryway options, I think we have decided on this from Pottery Barn. Since we have no coat closet (or any closet on the main level, for that matter), an entryway unit is necessary. I like this one b/c the baskets can hide keys, mail, boots, gloves, etc. Plus, I like the bench to sit down on when you're lacing up your shoes.

For the living room, we need a coffee table, new rug, and some lamps. Also, we are toying with the idea of hanging a small chandelier over the new fireplace and mantel. Something like one of these from Lowe's.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Cream of Broccoli Soup

I found this recipe on one of my favorite blogs for Weight Watchers recipes, Gina's WW Recipes. She listed this as making four servings but it is probably more like 6 which makes the points even lower. I made up a batch of this last week and brought a bowl to work for lunch everyday. Sure, it is no Panera broccoli cheese soup but it is satisfying and filling and healthy to boot.

3 cans fat free chicken broth
1/2 cup milk (2 percent)
2 tbsp low fat sour cream
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 onion chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk chopped
1 clove garlic chopped
5 cups broccoli florets (head of 2 large bunches)
Ground black pepper to taste

In a medium sized stock pot, bring chicken broth, onions, carrots, garlic, and celery to a boil. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. Add broccoli, milk and pepper and cook, covered, 10 more minutes. Add sour cream and puree soup. Adjust pepper to taste and heat through over medium heat. Add cheddar cheese and serve.
Servings: 4
Points: 2.5

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Project 365: Week 2

Week two of Project 365. I am having trouble narrowing down so some "days" have multiples.

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C + C Marriage Factory: January 2010

C + C Marriage Factory